“I’ve had a great day today,” Muzz would tell everyone at camp, “the best day so far. I’ve had a woman chase me for 10km!”
“How come?” we all would ask.
“I had a chat with this woman while I stopped when it rained. She was there with her four children. . . . I told her where we were going, was nice talking to her. . . . Then she chased me with my pump. She had to take three different taxis [matatu mini-buses] and a motorbike! . . . I thought that woman in the bus wanted to sell me something and just kept cycling. So she finally took a motorbike taxi and pulled up next to me, holding my pump out to me . . . She even left her kids behind to bring me my pump!”
Where else in the world would someone bother chasing a stranger half an hour to return a lost item!?
Muzz was so excited about what had happened that he would keep telling his story over and over again to every rider as soon as they reached camp. Without any walls, that means everyone who had arrived earlier would hear his story at least five more times.
While sitting around a bonfire after dinner, we’d still pull his leg for that. Have–you–heard–Muzz’s–story–yet? would make us laugh all evening. However, we shall now remember this story at least until we reach Cape Town, if not forever. Good stories deserved to be told, over and over again!
Stage 26: Lake Naivasha – Londiani (Kenya), 146km
Road & traffic condition:
A lot better than yesterday because we—i.e. those of us who prioritize safety—have had a hard shoulder to ride on for most of the day. Even though the shoulder was a lot rougher and bumpier than the smooth tar road, at least it gave us peace of mind.
Even cycling through the busy town of Nakuru has been manageable with a little bit of a shoulder for most of the time.
Like Nairobi, Nakuru struck me as a surprisingly green town with lots of trees along its main streets.
Finally, we’ve had our first longer 10km+ climb with an altitude increase of 500m+. It didn’t seem very steep, but after 120km in the saddle and cycling at a somewhat higher altitude of 2,500m+, the climb provided quite a workout for us nevertheless!
For the first time, we got rained at today while cycling! However, the associated drop in temperature and refreshing effect of raindrops was more pleasant than bothersome overall.
Kenya had one of it worst droughts over the past months. It didn’t rain at all during the last rainy season, which had a devastating impact on its agriculture. People even died because of the drought.
“We don’t expect any rain until perhaps April,” Alan at the African Heritage House had told Phil and me in Nairobi. Ironically, it would rain like crazy that same night! I had left my two supposedly water-proof bags outside, and would spend all morning hanging up my wet clothes! With one more rest day to come, I had learnt my lesson the easy way. It would rain again the night before we started cycling, but that time I made sure to hide my bags underneath the tent flysheet—hakuna matata (no problem).
Sugar cane seems to be quite popular around here as a snack, at least we’ve seen heaps of sugar cane vendors during our climb.
I haven’t tried the sugar cane, but our dinner has been my favorite so far. For the first time, we’ve had fish (as well as salad, pumpkin and cabbage/potato), including plenty of food for second or even third helpings.
Camping in the bush again (or for the first time for our new sectional riders) without access to showers or toilet . . .
. . . yet free flow of beer delivered and sold by the locals.
After dinner, we congregated around a bonfire—courtesy of Rupert—and laughed about our silly jokes that don’t deserve repetition. “That’s the real life,” we all agreed, “who would want to sit in an office all day and stare at a screen?”
Today has been a long and hard cycling day, but I’ve had fun. Dropping out of the race (mentally speaking) was a smart decision. Without any time pressure, I’ve stayed on the hard shoulder whenever available, gone super slow in built up areas as well as on all the downhills, and stopped whenever I felt like it to take photos or chat with the locals.
That way, I’ve also had enough energy to listen to my Swahili lessons again while cycling, and enjoyed every fabulous inch of my ride. I even had a coke stop—buying water during the climb.
NB: Officially, I will still record my racing times and they will be published on TDA’s website. However, these times no longer represent my competitive race performance, but simply my cycling time for curiosity.